Fighting Fat While Abroad

While travelling the world on an adventure its easy to eat butter chicken everyday and forget about healthy eating. Here are the healthy outdoor fitness tips you need to keep you feeling in top shape while still having fun in all your travels.

Outdoor Fitness Tips for staying healthy while travelling

Three weeks into our India adventure, my boyfriend’s nickname for me was Butter Chicken.

This was three weeks of almost none of the outdoor fitness inspired lifestyle I am used to in my daily life. Sometimes while travelling or on vacation you just start having to much fun and forget about the healthy lifestyle you left behind at home!

outdoor fitness-butter chicken

How not to feel like a big fat butter chicken through outdoor fitness fun

Although my boyfriend may have called me Butter Chicken in a very sweet way it was not a cute nickname that I felt was endearing. This is what happens when you don’t have a lot of healthy outdoor fitness in your life on your travels. Sure, it may have been the Christmas holiday season and millions of other people may be pigging out this time of year and enjoying every indulgent thing while travelling but after three weeks of being away from my workout routine, my healthy fitness lifestyle and my organic veggies I was feeling just a bit like a big fat butter chicken.

Don’t let this happen to you. No one wants a butter chicken ass. Even if you are travelling the world and on an adventure, make outdoor fitness and your health a priority.

Believe me, I know from personal experience how exceptionally hard it is to eat healthy and stay fit while in a foreign country. It’s so much easier when you are at home in your comfort zone to go for a run in your neighbourhood, go to your local Cross-Fit gym or attend your favourite yoga studio down the street. I’m not personally one of those people who ever sets foot inside a gym. To me, the best way to workout is to get outdoors. Outdoor fitness is way more fun than working out in a sweaty, smelly gym under fluorescent fake lighting. My body feels better while absorbing some Vitamin D with my daily outdoor fitness workout too. The great thing about travelling is sometimes you find great workouts that you could never experience at home. On the other hand though some cities make it seem damn near impossible to get that outdoor fitness that you crave. Some lucky sods actually lose weight whilst they travel but this is not the norm!

Not only is it harder to workout being on the road (Or on a plane or on a train or on a rickshaw but it makes it so damn hard to eat healthy, apart from the whole exercise part! As much fun as travel may be, sometimes when we find ourselves travelling for extended periods of time it gets really complicated to keep up that healthy eating lifestyle that we follow down to the letter every day back at home. I normally stay away from carbs, white flour and sugar.

Until I go on vacation overseas and am surrounded by gelato and chapatis (Not at the same time; That would be awkward) and spend weeks shovelling carbs into my face. Authentic ethnic breads baked just that morning taste so great! It’s hard to say no and have self-control on vacation. When trying to be healthy while travelling it’s not an easy task. It is way easier to go out for butter chicken and home-made just minutes earlier parathas than to spend all that time to track down the only organic grocery store where you are staying.

One thing about trying to stay healthy while travelling; it takes planning out in advance. To be successful eating on the road you need to plan out the correct snacks to take with you (Nothing liquid that could explode in luggage or not be able to take through security onto a plane) You also need to research in advance if there are any health food stores, fresh veggie markets or healthy lifestyle restaurants where you will be staying. Then there is the whole concept of fitness while travelling. I believe outdoor fitness is the very best; for your heart, your soul your mind and yes sometimes your wallet too.

Outdoor fitness-kayaking

Kayaking is a fantastic outdoor fitness activity to work that upper body! Plus kayak rentals are usually not very pricey for an hour!

In California where I’m from it’s simple to eat healthy. We have a Trader Joe’s on nearly every corner, most large cities have a weekly farmers market and most of the larger cities have a Whole Foods grocery store these days. Living in California means that I can usually find all the gluten free or organic choices that my body craves. Residing in the varied climate state of California also means that I have a massive amount of varied outdoor fitness activities I can do each day without even setting foot in a gym!

Being a California girl means I can go snow shoeing right outside my door in the San Bernardino National Forest on an early winter morning. Then if I wanted to drive a few hours to the beach cities, I could go for a run on the beach in the evening and watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean! (Don’t you want to travel to California now?) Living in California spoils you for the kind of health and fitness lifestyle you simply cannot find while travelling to a lot of different places. Here in California we have easy access to surfing, skiing, trail running, kayaking, roller blading, road cycling, mountain biking and snow shoeing just to name a few of our pastimes that lead to a very fit lifestyle. I’ve found while travelling to some different countries this is not the case and my healthy fitness lifestyle definitely suffers because of it.

Try To Shop Natural and Organic Where You Are Staying

Outdoor fitness-Organic groceries

Organic groceries are hard to find in some countries! Do the research ahead of time.

It’s really hard while being away from home and your familiar home town health food stores and your actual own kitchen with all your blenders  and juicers to keep up a healthy lifestyle. I absolutely adore travelling the world and trying all kinds of new and exciting cuisines but most of these delicious new culinary adventures are far different from the eighty percent Paleo diet.  I survive on at home in California. Having said that there is now way on earth I would miss out on all the delicious and unique foods you find while travelling. Although sometimes after weeks away from home, I just crave a smoothie. If you want to maintain muscle mass, it’s worth travelling with some protein powder – just be sure it doesn’t explode in your bag! Check out this post for a list of the best tasting vanilla protein powders. 

If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen at your disposal while travelling (Or even an outdoor grill if you are camping!) then you are blessed to get to experiment with some ethnic foods as well as some healthy options. When we stayed at Bondi Beach in New South Wales a few winters ago we were so blessed that our rented apartment was just above Harris Farm Markets, which is like the uppity fancy very expensive Australian version of Bristol Farms. I bought the best Australian aged raw milk cheddar I had ever had in my life at this fancy market! Which was fantastic with their farm fresh organic brown eggs that I swear tasted like they had just been laid by a very productive hen. They could not have been any more fresh if I had just plucked them from the roust myself!

Find a Local Market with Fresh Veggies; Fiber, Yea!

As fun as it is to eat out every day sometimes you just want a big plate of organic broccoli or to add some fresh spinach to your eggs in the morning.

I have had some phenomenal ethnic great breakfasts while travelling but sometimes I just want to start my day with a fresh juice (With no sugar added!) and some scrambled eggs with spinach. When we stayed in Paris a few years ago the fresh pastries we had every morning were out of this world, and walking distance from the doors of our hotel. Not to mention the café crème, little coffee shots we had to have at least three times a day were the best way to start a morning in a gorgeous historically rich city like Paris. These are fantastic treats to enjoy while on vacation but after a few days of not having eggs, or oatmeal or a smoothie for breakfast I can really start to feel it. Even when you do manage to get in a little vacation fitness in the morning when travelling, having a heavy breakfast just makes you lose all those endorphins and go back to that blah feeling afterwards!

When we stayed in Bangalore recently on our first day walking around our neighbourhood I noticed just down the street from our apartment there was a fresh fruit and vegetable stall. This fruit and veggie stall was a life saver! In Bangalore almost every neighbourhood has their own fruit and vegetable stall. The food the whole time we were in India was incredibly inexpensive but buying fresh fruits and vegetables every morning was even more incredibly cheap! I was shocked the first morning I shopped at the fruit stand. My boyfriend told me I should have bargained too when I came back with enough fruits and vegetables for a few days on that first day. I found it hard to bargain when I had just paid what amounts to three U.S. dollars for all this lovely produce!

Besides locating the fresh produce venders in the area where you are staying, if you are staying in a place with a kitchen try to see if there is a fresh fish market nearby. While travelling through different countries you will discover all types of regional fish you have never heard of in your life!

Outdoor fitness-fresh fish market

Travelling abroad means shopping at fantastic fish markets with fresh daily catch

While staying in Hong Kong for a few days we took a bus to a local fishing village near the Sha Tin area called Sai Kung. If you ever get a chance to travel to a little fishing village during your travels to buy fresh seafood I highly recommend it! Every afternoon in Sai Kung the local fisherman bring their catch into the harbour and locals swarm in masses to buy fresh squid, crabs caught just a few hours ago, razor clams, and a crazy variety of fresh caught local fish. The fisherman down below the pier even guts and cleans the fish for his waiting customers and then money is set in his net and exchanged for some cleaned and delicious fresh fish fillets just pulled off the coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula.

I Found A Health Food Store! Now How the Hell Do I Read This Label?

You have done it! You have braved the maddening traffic, and even though you are jet-lagged you made it to Hong Kong’s version of Whole Foods.

And all the labels are in Chinese…

Did I just buy organic fish balls? (Fish balls are actually a big street food in Hong Kong and yes they are delicious and no, I’m pretty sure they absolutely are not organic)

Welcome to international travel! No labels are in your specified language and good luck finding a list of ingredients on labels! Thank God for smart phones for translating!

While travelling abroad even if you could find a health food store in the neighbourhood in the foreign country in which you are staying then you will more than likely have to bust out your iPhone to try to decipher a foreign language on the label. Having to look at so many different labels this way is a lot more complicated than just checking labels in the U.S. to see if items contain soy or are gluten free. Let’s face it, when you are travelling abroad you may be hurrying to catch a train, or your next flight and does anyone really have the time for this?

Even worse (And this was something I found extremely frustrating on my recent trip to India) a lot of food items overseas do not have the ingredients listed on the label at all! The month I travelled in India over this past winter all I wanted was a juice that was juice and no sugar added. No sugar! Just juice! This does not seem like a complicated request but when travelling in certain countries it seems like so many juices have sugar added to them.

One thing to keep in mind when attempting to find healthy items in international grocery stores; Do not be in a hurry. Try to take the time to get the items you really want. Try to find the time to attempt to decipher the labels using your smart phone.

Outdoor fitness-kayaking

Travel abroad means opportunities to kayak a lot of beautiful lakes

Research Outdoor Fitness Activities in the Areas You Will be Travelling To In Advance

outddor fitness-hiking

Going for a hike is a fantastic example of outdoor fitness while travelling

One of my favourite tips for staying healthy is to get outdoors! I’m one of those people who does not see how the gym and working out under migraine causing fluorescent lighting is any fun at all. I consider the outdoors and the forest my gym. I adore outdoor fitness like trail running, kayaking and cross country skiing. I try to plan my travels and vacations around as much outdoor fitness as possible. Vacations to hike-able places like Machu Picchu’s Inca Trail, hikes through Denali National Park and summiting some of the highest mountains and peaks in the United States are my idea of an awesome fitness fuelled vacation. The easiest way to stay healthy and fit while travelling is to stay active! Even if that means just taking the stairs every time you return to your hotel, hostel or apartment.

Go For a Run; Make it a City Tour!

My favourite outdoor fitness activity when travelling is to go for a run when I get into a city. This is a great way to just explore a new area. I also love to rent a bike and cycle around a new neighbourhood. This is a fantastic way to really know a city while cycling through new neighbourhoods.

Is the city you will be staying in pedestrian friendly enough to go for a run where you are staying? The best way to get to know a city is to get up at dawn and go for a run. In a city like Hong Kong the sunrises are just fantastic (Yea for smog) Our apartment we rented was just around the corner from Kowloon Park, a very runner friendly area of Hong Kong. This area of TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) at Canton Road was very central to the ferry harbour as well. Running in this area at sunrise was just fantastic.

It may sound rough to get up at dawn and go for a run after the first night you stay in a city but if you have travelled in from a foreign land this is a good way to avoid jet lag and get used to the time change.

Rent a Bike; Go Exploring!

Outdoor fitness-Cycling

Cycling is a fantastic outdoor fitness activity to explore a new city

I recommend when you plan out your trip ahead of time see if the cities you are staying in have cycling paths and if there are bikes for rent or if there are any running trails near where you are staying. Also check to see what the hiking might be like in the area. Hiking is a great way to sweat out all the extra fatty foods and yes booze to that we tend to inhale on vacation.

The second part of our Hong Kong journey we stayed in Sha Tin outside the city proper. Our hotel was right next to the river and there was an exceptional jogging or cycling path that followed the river for miles. The second day we were there we accidentally joined up with the 5K that was happening along the river walk! Spur of the moment riverside 5K! It’s on!

Cyclone made it impossible for Outdoor Fitness? Bring Workout DVDS on Your Laptop

Loving outdoor fitness makes it really hard for me to find a way to work out in a very bustling city, such as when I travelled to Bangalore last month. In a city like Bangalore where the traffic is a mad rush of cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and garbage eating cows it feels impossible to go for a run or even a walk!

Outdoor fitness-India-cow

This is why outdoor fitness is hard in Bangalore and other big cities. The cows are everywhere!

When we stayed in Bangalore for three weeks I found that the area we stayed in (Kammanahalli) while having a very hip and cosmopolitan vibe was impossible for my outdoor workout needs. The city traffic was so exceptionally bad and the side walks, when there were side walks were cracked and broken and filled with cows. Literally I could not run here or I would hit a cow. Also there were the piles of cow dung everywhere. I really did not want to bring any Hoof and Mouth Disease back on my Asics Trail Runner Shoes.

I did see people biking in the incredibly bad city traffic here and I don’t know how they did it! They squeezed into the line of traffic in between rickshaws, thousands of motorbikes and yes more cows. We saw multiple cyclists and motorbikes get hit while in this incredible traffic. So, no, actually, Bangalore is not a great place to get any outdoor workouts.

In a situation like this when I need to squeeze in some fitness between another round of butter chicken I turn to my Insanity or P90X DVDs that I have saved as a video file like a MPEG on my tablet. Workout DVDS do get a little boring when you do them every day but when you are travelling and have a busy schedule it’s easy to squeeze out a thirty-five to forty-five minute workout and then get on with your day of exploring whichever city you may be checking out that week. The great things about these high intensity circuit training workouts too, is that you don’t need any equipment to do them! For most of the workouts you don’t need hand weights, weighted gloves or bands to get a great and really intense workout in. All you need is enough open floor space to have room to work out!

Workout DVDS are my saving grace some days with my healthy fitness regimen. They are great too if the weather turns bad! When we stayed in India for three weeks the first week we were there Cyclone Vardah made landfall in Chennai, one hundred and sixty miles to the east of where we were located. As the cyclone built over the Bay of Bengal it was pouring rain like I had never seen in my life in Bangalore in Karnataka state. We were marooned indoors for three days with no relief from the rains in sight and thankfully we at least had a few different Insanity DVDs with Sean T to keep us a little fit. (Otherwise we would just be ordering in butter chicken and sitting on our continuously fatter asses each day) Hopefully you will never have to wait out a cyclone (Or hurricane or typhoon depending on where you are in the world and what it’s called in those parts) but if you do, having a workout DVD or two as a backup plan is a lightweight healthy fitness tool.

outdoor fitness-snowshoe

Snowshoeing burns so many of those butter chicken calories!

Take Advantage of Local Winter Outdoor Fitness Activities

Are you staying in a place where it snows seasonably like Mammoth or Whistler? Shovel fresh snow is a fantastic full body workout. Shovel snow for an hour and you will burn around four hundred calories. There are so many great outdoor fitness activities you can do in a snowy environment. My favourite is snowshoeing. Snowshoe anywhere with hills and you are looking to burn around a thousand calories in an hour! The first time I travelled to Mammoth Mountain, California I did not have a vehicle to drive my first day there and I was alone and bored all day so I strapped on my snow shoes and walked all over the town and the forest roads exploring. I did about six miles that day and got to see the entire town of Mammoth Lakes on my little walking tour.

outdoor fitness-ski

Cross country skiing is a fun way to spend a day in the outdoors

Cross country skiing and ice skating are also fantastic winter time outdoor fitness activities. Cross country skiing is a great way to spend an afternoon anywhere that is slightly flat and full of a few feet of snow. The great thing about activities like snow shoeing, cross country skiing and ice skating is you can usually rent the equipment relatively cheap. I know in my ski town where I live snow shoes rent for just fifteen dollars a day.

Stuck in an airport? I’m Sorry and Lets Make It Better With Kale!

Let’s face it. Airport food really sucks ninety percent of the time. When you do find airport food that tastes good it is very, very rarely good for you! The food on most planes is even worse and usually loaded with sodium. When planning to travel through airports, especially when I find that I will have layovers I try to pack as many healthy snacks as possible.

When travelling across the world of course you want to experience all different kinds of local cuisines. I mean who wants to travel to Paris and eat at McDonald’s every day? Trying all these local delicacies is an exceptional part of travelling that I love. That is until my butter chicken starts showing. That is when I realize that the only vegetable I have inhaled in a week is paleek paneer. In some cultures it’s just hard to find simple things like salads or healthy steamed vegetables.

That is why I recommend stocking up at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or your favourite natural health food store before you hop on a plane.

True story; I was having lunch with my boyfriend’s family in Bangalore India and was told we would be having salad for lunch. I was ecstatic! After two weeks of no greens and no fiber, I nearly swooned I was so excited!

Until I was served a traditional Indian raita with some fresh vegetables in it. I actually adore Indian yogurt raita so I was not exactly complaining but still… Yogurt and red onions does not make a salad!

outdoor fitness-Larabar organic superfoods

Kale filled Larabars are a lifesaver when stuck at airports

No salad to be had? Don’t worry, well don’t worry much any ways because of a little bar named Lara. When I travel abroad I swear by Larabars. I pack the Larabar Fruits + Green in pineapple, kale and cashew. These things are a life saver when travelling through a country like India where there is not a lot of fiber (Well besides Paleek paneer which is always delicious). I also take the organic Larabars with me as a staple in my back pack when I travel. I love the super foods flavours in coconut, kale and cacao, and the super food turmeric, ginger and beets. When you are travelling anywhere that health food is hard to find having a handful of these packed is a God send!

outdoor fitness-Larabar organic superfood

Having a healthy organic snack in my backpack has been a lifesaver more than once when traveling

I also pack my favourite nut mixes (I love Blue Diamond almonds in habanero BBQ or salt and vinegar flavour) My favorite antibiotic free turkey jerky, Vermont Smoke and Cure Turkey Meat Sticks in honey mustard, and tons of dried bananas and pineapple. I always pack vitamin C effervescent like Emergen-C or Airborne as well as a few echinacea, ginger digestion and green tea bags. Packing your favourite teabags is beyond easy and so helpful for those train rides, airport layovers or flights. All you need is hot water!

One thing that is hard to find when travelling is airport food that is somewhat healthy! At some airports like LAX in Los Angeles they actually have some delicious food options now like 800 Degrees Pizza, Sammy’s Wood Fired Pizza and Umami Burger. These restaurants might be full of all kinds of delicious things that you can only find in Los Angeles (Like Umami Burger’s amazing ahi tuna burger with gingered carrots, crushed avocado and wasabi tarter) but sometimes when you have a ten hour layover and you already feel like poo sitting in an airport all day long, you just want something a tad healthy.

Starring at the masses filing into McDonald’s and KFC anywhere internationally is just depressing. While researching this topic I googled healthy airport food and found a delightful article about the healthiest things to order at McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts.

Um no. Nothing that is processed by McDonald’s and then somehow labelled as food can be considered healthy. I would maybe order a water in their fine restaurant and consider myself safe from diabetes and heart disease for the day.

While travelling through the Bangalore Airport recently I was stuck with a gruelling ten hour layover. Being stuck in a strange airport and being bored and hungry is the worst combination. I may have been bored, I may have been hungry but I was lucky as I thankfully discovered Joe and the Juice. It was like I had walked out of the doors of the airport and into a utopia of fresh pressed veggie goodness. This juicery offers a heavenly selection of spinach and kale filled liquids like the Joe’s AMG which of course stands for apple, mint and ginger, or they have the Veggie Focus, consisting of celery, carrot and apple. I adored the Green Shield when I discovered Joe and the Juice on about hour three of our layover. That’s when I was refreshed by the Green Shield; Cucumber, kale, broccoli, spinach and apple. It’s hard sometimes to try to stay fit and healthy while travelling. Healthy lifestyle restaurants like Joe the Juice really make it easier and I so wish they were easier to find! If you happen to find yourself stranded at the Bangalore Airport for any stretch of time the healthy whole grain paninis from Joe the Juice are fantastic too! The Tunacado seriously saved my health food sanity during my layover in January. Thank you God for Joe for keeping me sane (And regular!) through my ten hour stay at the Bangalore Airport!

On this one instance when I had a massive and unexpected airport layover I became so lucky discovering this secret healthy mecca at the Bangalore International Airport. It was just luck, pure and simple. That is why as a health conscious traveller it’s good to be prepared with healthy snacks on hand at all times. My personal fitness and health is very important to my well being even when travelling or on vacation. I wish health food was easier to find in airports but it’s just not.

Keeping up on health and fitness while travelling internationally can be hard but with a little planning in advance and a whole lot of patience it is possible. Coming back from a vacation and not feeling like you have a “Butter Chicken Butt” makes it totally worth it for a little extra hassle.

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Fighting Fat While Abroad




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